5 Braves that need to step up with Ronald Acuña Jr. out

No single player can replace the reigning NL MVP, but which guys do the Braves need more from in order to still compete in 2024?

Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates
Atlanta Braves v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves were in the midst of a tough road trip that saw them go .500 across six games. However, the biggest loss they experienced was the injury to their superstar in Sunday's afternoon game in Pittsburgh.

The reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. had a scary knee injury yesterday that will force him to miss the rest of the 2024 season. The Braves have a tough road ahead and will need some guys to step up the rest of the way. But which Braves players need to step up the most in order to fill the absence of Acuña Jr. in the lineup?

Michael Harris II

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves / Alex Slitz/GettyImages

We begin with one of the potential leadoff replacement options in money Mike. It's not the most appealing replacement option given his low on-base percentage and terrible chase-rate, but when MH2 is right he has all the tools to lead this Braves lineup.

Harris obviously has the speed to be a threat on the basepaths, but he just needs to find a way to first base more often. However, Braves fans saw how electric Michael Harris II can be once the calendar flipped to June last season. Maybe we're approaching a repeat for money Mike in 2024, and with this latest injury to Ronald, MH2's June emergence would be perfectly timed.

Jarred Kelenic

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

We remain in the outfield with a player who stepped up big time in yesterday's game in Pittsburgh. Kelenic entered the game for the injured Acuna, as manager Brian Snitker shuffled Duvall to right field. All Kelenic did was record a three hit game off the bench in the Braves 8-1 Sunday win.

There's still plenty of time until the trade deadline, and fans saw first hand what brilliance Alex Anthopoulos can pull off. However, until those moves actually take place the Braves need the platoon of Kelenic and Duvall to become viable starters. That means more at-bats against LHP for Kelenic. Will he be up for the task?

Adam Duvall

The beloved power-hitting outfielder Adam Duvall will now have more pressure on him as he is thrust into an everday role. It's one he's filled before for Atlanta, so fans now what to expect from Duvall. Things got off to a good start in yesterday's game as Duvall took Aroldis Chapman deep late in the ballgame.

Fans hope that Duvall can step up from his .207/.305/.378 slash line and provide some more power and solid defense to help soften the loss of Acuna. Hopefully, the power stroke gets hot for Duvall and he flourishes in what will be an everyday role for the foreseeable future.

Matt Olson

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

We arrive at the first non-outfielder listed in the form of first baseman Matt Olson. It's been a slow start in 2024 for Olson, but his bat is the most dangerous remaining in the Braves lineup. When he's right we saw what kind of season Olson can have with the bat, as he finished fourth in NL MVP voting last season.

As mentioned things haven't been as smooth to start 2024, but perhaps his second career homer into the Allegheny River will jumpstart his season. No one can match the power-speed combo of Acuna on the Braves roster, but the power Olson can provide can go a long way to ensuring the Braves still make 2024 a successful season

Ozzie Albies

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Finally, we conclude with someone thought to be Ronald's best friend on the team. There's no ideal option to plug into the leadoff role for the Braves, but Ozzie Albies is certainly one of them. You could even see Snit choose to alter leadoff men based on the opposing pitcher. Ozzie makes for a good threat against LHP's as he currently is slashing .333/.333/.524 against them in 2024.

This season hasn't been poor by no means for Ozzie, but he is the longest tenured Brave at the moment so he's going to have to step up in the clubhouse and lead. Ozzie can be a spark plug on the field when he's hot, and the Braves offense is in desperate need of that at the moment.

No matter how we frame this, no one player can replace the reigning NL MVP. Ronald Acuna Jr. is a special talent, and it's going to take a village to replace that. Luckily the Braves have plenty of talent in house, so they just need a little more from a few players, rather than a lot more from a specific guy. Time will tell if they can achieve that, and provide a repeat performance of 2021.

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